Thinking is easy but good informed thinking is difficult. To be better at analyzing ideas as well as communicating them, we all need to keep our mental pencils sharp. Here are five ideas on how to do that:
1. Begin with the question, “How do I know something is true?” Facts trump feelings and feelings can be misinformed. Do the extra work of checking your facts and supporting your feelings with substance.
2. Know why you believe something. This relates to the above: our opinions are often inherited and/or unexamined. To increase your mental acuity, question your opinions and assumptions.
3. Don’t accept statements as fact regardless how eloquently those statements are presented. Look for the underlying reasoning. Don’t ingest inferior ideas presented with superior style.
4. Analyze the nuances. Untruths, errors and lies (the latter being intentional) are often just a subtle twist of truth.
5. Consider the impact of ideas. Some are merely interesting and of marginal use. Others may seem mundane but hold the potential of tremendous impact.
Your comments remind me of something William James said: “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.”
I have to keep reminding myself that just because I’m absolutely convinced that I’m right doesn’t mean that I am. (Experience and memory teach me that feeling right and being right don’t always go hand in hand.)